SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Local councils are sounding the alarm about the use of public space to accommodate 5G telecommunication networks, the FD reports.
At least ten local councils, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven, have said they are not happy about proposed changes to the telecommunications law which would force local authorities to make public space available for a new network of antennas.
The 5G network needs more antennas because the higher frequencies have a lower range. They are also more sensitive to disturbances caused by objects at the top end of the frequency which is why a number of them will have to be installed at street level.
That means that the most likely places would be bus shelters, lampposts, traffic lights and public buildings and local councils fear that this will lead to a ‘messy look’ and higher maintenance costs.
They also expect a barrage of complaints from locals about perceived risks to health, the paper said.
Telecom companies have been playing down the councils’ concerns, saying the present arsenal of 46,791 antennas will only be increased by 10%. Amsterdam digital city alderman Touria Meliani said she expected around 10,000 extra antennas to be placed in the capital.
Director of the organisation for telecom providers Monet Rob Bongenaar told the paper that this is ‘fear mongering’and that the total would be nearer 5,000, with wi-fi like solutions,’ the paper quoted him as saying.
Providers KPN, T-Mobile and VodafoneZiggo said they would only use the highest 5G frequency in very busy spots, such as Amsterdam city centre and around stations.
According to Sander van der Zande, 5G project leader at Vodafone, the telecom companies have little financial gain from putting antennas, or ‘small cells’, on street furniture.
‘Earlier tests were not successful. We once spent day looking for one of our small cells which was lost because someone knocked down the lamppost it was attached to. (..) We prefer to use our own existing network locations,’ he said.